“This crunchy and tasty street snack is one of the most popular vegetarian appetizers in the Middle East. Nearly every corner has a vendor selling falafels stuffed into pita bread with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and tahini sauce. They are also served on a plate with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and fresh pita wedges drizzled with tahini or yogurt sauce,” says author and chef Zov Karamardian.
- 2 cups dried shucked fava beans, soaked overnight
- 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 piece (2 inches) peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons granulated onions
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup instant potato flakes
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 1/2 quarts canola oil
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Tahini Sauce
- Sliced or diced ripe tomatoes, for garnish
- Cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Romaine lettuce leaves, for garnish
- Karamardian says dried fava beans and garbanzo beans are more tender when cooked than their canned counterparts. Drain the fava beans and garbanzo beans. Place the garbanzo beans in a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil then boil for 10 minutes. Drain immediately then scatter the garbanzo beans over a baking sheet to cool completely. Peel the fava beans and set them aside. To peel the fava bean, peel back the skin from one end of a bean then pinch the bean between two fingers to pop it out of the skin. Do not boil the fava beans.
Pulse the fava beans in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. Add the garbanzo beans and pulse until the beans are finely chopped and gritty and resemble large grains of sand (they should not be ground into a paste consistency), scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer the beans to a large bowl.
Combine the onion, ginger, garlic, cilantro, and parsley in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is gritty and brilliant green but not pureed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add a few tablespoons of water, if necessary, to release some of the mixture that might be stuck to the sides of the bowl. Transfer the mixture to the fava and garbanzo mixture. Stir in the coriander, cumin, salt, Aleppo pepper, garlic powder, granulated onions, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the potato flakes and panko. Using your hands, mix until mixture is very well blended. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- Do-Ahead Tip: At this point, the mixture can be divided into several portions, stored in airtight containers, and frozen for about 3 months. Thaw it before continuing. Be sure to add the appropriate amount of baking powder to the mixture after it has thawed.
- Heat about 2-inches of oil in a large saucepan or a deep fryer over medium heat until it reaches 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Just before frying, mix the baking powder into the falafel mixture. Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture into disc-shaped rounds. Working batches of about 6 falafels per batch fry the falafels until they are brown and crisp on the outside, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the falafels to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Make sure the heat does not get too hot, otherwise the falafels will brown too much before the center is cooked. Serve hot with tahini sauce, tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and lettuce.
- Zov’s Kitchen Notes: Baking powder makes the falafels light and fluffy. Be sure to add the baking powder just before frying the falafels so as not to diminish its rising power.
- Dried fava beans can be found at Middle Eastern markets. Though dried fava beans are shucked from their pods, the skin surrounding the bean must be peeled away. Peeling takes a bit of time, so enlist help from friends and family—their reward will be the most amazing falafels they’ve ever eaten.